THE ASSAM RIFLES ACT, 1941

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The Assam Rifles Act, 1941 was enacted on March 17, 1941 with an intention to standardize and maintain obedience and order in the Assam Rifles. The application of the enactment extends to the entire Indian Territory as well as to persons who are serving under the Assam Rifles irrespective of the place they serve. The Act provides provision for the general administration and regulation of the Assam Rifles. It provides that the supervision and management of the rifles shall be carried out by the person or an official who is assigned such powers by the Central Government. When performing his duties, the official shall be administered by the rules as well as regulations that are formulated by the Government of India in this connection. Section 4 of the Act deals with the appointment and release of the riflemen. The assigning of duties to all persons serving under the Assam rifles shall be performed by the Commandant. Moreover, prior to the appointment of such persons, the riflemen shall be given the opportunity to read the report as stated in the Schedule and where essential it shall be described to that person in the attendance of a Magistrate. The statement shall also be signed by stating that the riflemen had read the statement and understood the same. The riflemen cannot be released without complying with the terms of the statement that was certified by his signature as provided under the present enactment along with the Assam Rifles Act of 1920.

The Act divides the riflemen into two categories viz, combatants and non-combatants. The combatants consist of subadars-major, Havildars-major, Naiks, Subadars etc. The non-combatants include Hospital attendants, barbers, sweepers, cooks and many more. The position of each rifleman according to the ranks is also specified in the enactment. The Act further states that a rifleman if starts, incites, causes or unites in any rebellion or has been seen to appear in any such revolt and fails to take effort to hold back the revolt, or fails to give sufficient information to the concerned authorities regarding the revolt shall be liable for imprisonment and fine as provided under the Act. The riflemen shall also be punished if he employs or efforts to employ criminal force or does physical attack on the higher official with the knowledge or gets evidence that such practice is being done during duty or otherwise. The Act also penalizes for disgracefully disposing of or conveying any materials that are mentioned under the Act where he is not permitted to do such activities. It further provides that where a rifleman straightly or circuitously holds communication or give details or helps or releases any person who is initiating war against the nation or fails to find out right away to the superiors of such communication or release shall be made punishable under the legislation.

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Besides, the rifleman who is liable to be imprisoned according to the terms of the Act for a term not extending three months shall be committed to a civil jail when he is discharged from service. When such person is still working in service, he shall be committed to Quarter Guard when such direction is issued by the Court which convicted him or by the District Magistrate. The Commandant, his assistant or a rifleman serving under the Assam rifles shall get the rights similar to that of a police officer as provided under the Indian Evidence Act of 1872. The persons who are serving under the Assam rifles shall be considered to be part of the Indian Army for the purposes set out in the enactment. The Government of India is entrusted with the power to impose duties to the Commanders who are working under the Assam Rifles. The Central Government is also empowered to frame rules for the proper enforcement of the Act.

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The present Act was amended by enacting the Assam Rifles (Amendment) Act, 1951 and the Assam Rifles (Amendment) Act, 1962.